8/8/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
This report is a sidebar to UMNS story #396. A photograph is available.
By Kathleen LaCamera*
Steinvig, a Danish Methodist and creator of the Copenhagen Gospel
Festival, leads a gospel choir workshop at the European Methodist
Festival in Potsdam, Germany. Steinvig’s Danish gospel choirs have
toured Europe and the United States. A UMNS photo by Kathleen LaCamera.
Photo number 03-269 Accompanies UMNS story #398, 8/8/03
No Long Caption Available for this Story
POTSDAM, Germany (UMNS) - Song sheets with words
but no music are passed around the room. People who have never sung
together before murmur to one another.
"We have five things here
on this sheet to sing," announces Peter Steinvig, Danish Methodist and
gospel music expert. "But we may not sing them in the order on your
page, and we may sing them more than once, so you have to watch."
partners, British gospel singers Ruth Lynch and Junior Robinson,
demonstrated standard gospel hand signals that help keep a choir
together. With little more preparation than that, the group is off
singing its way through the rhythmic Caribbean tones of "Hallowed Be Thy
Welcome to the European Methodist Festival Gospel
Workshop and to something many participants have never tried before:
singing with a gospel choir. The workshop is one of many at the July
30-Aug. 3 gathering.
"You sing nice, but too nice," Steinvig
tells the group with a laugh. "You can make it much more punchy. Forget
legato. You just have to relax. There's always a pulse to the music."
son of a Methodist minister and a classically trained organist,
Steinvig not only directs three Danish gospel choirs, but founded the
Copenhagen Gospel Festival, now in its 11th year. He started his first
gospel choir at his father's church in 1975. Still going strong, the
choir has toured Europe and the United States, and staged a performance
at the 2000 General Conference in Cleveland. The Washington Post
reviewed another of the group's U.S. concerts.
In addition to
his gospel choir responsibilities, Steinvig is the organist and music
director for a Lutheran church in Copenhagen, Denmark's capital.
was in his father's church, as a child, that he first heard Africans
singing. "I just knew it was different," says Steinvig, who has five
children of his own. "I love classical music but also love modern music
A big fan of Eric Clapton, he sees himself as a kind of "Christian equivalent; a white guy doing the black blues."
studying classical music in Europe, Steinvig was offered the
opportunity to do post-graduate work in church music at United
Methodist-related Duke University. While living in North Carolina, he
visited black churches all over the area.
"I'm touched by the
history of black people, which gives me a special love of this music,"
Steinvig says. "It's exciting to do Christian music that has a very
modern way of expressing itself,"
Participants in the Methodist
festival workshop agree. By the end of the three-hour session, a
self-proclaimed British "stick in the mud" is belting out harmonies with
the best of them.
Karoline Wueth, who works in Christian music publishing in Germany, says she always sings with the music in front of her.
With a smile, she says: "Singing this way is far more adventurous."
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*LaCamera is a United Methodist News Service correspondent based in England.